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Bigger Does Not Mean Better

Kingdom Purpose

Interestingly enough, researches tell us that half of all churches average 100 or less in Sunday morning attendance. If you average 300 or more then you are in the top 5% of all churches in North America. We have become enamored with thinking that bigger is always better and that is not always the case. In listening to Rick Warren’s latest Purpose Driven Church training he reminds us that, “Bigger is not necessarily better. Better is better!” Better should equal healthy, biblical, and faithfulness to the vision God has given your church!

Is there any correlation between size and strength? Once again, Warren challenges us to realize that there is no correlation between the two. A large church can be very wide but not very deep. It can be focused on the wrong values and be more about the show and numbers. But let’s be cautious about automatically assuming that if a church is large they must be compromising the truth and they certainly must be “a mile wide and an inch deep!” There are large churches, mega-churches, that are preaching the truth and are actively leading their people into an intimate discipleship with Christ.

We know that large churches are not necessarily healthy but neither is a small church. Some people readily admit that they love attending a small church – but why is that? Do they love it being small for the right reasons? Just because a church is small does not mean that it is unhealthy. There are many small churches reaching lost people with the gospel, discipling their people, and making an impact in global missions. Someone has said it well, “Don’t judge the size of the dog in the fight but judge the size of fight in the dog!”

When we think about any church we must think about it fulfilling its purpose. What does God want every one of His churches to accomplish for Him? Warren goes on to say, “If your church will make a great commitment to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment then you will be a church with a Great Purpose!” When you look at the Great Commission and the Great Commandment there are five verbs that stress what every church’s purpose is as they pursue glorifying God. Whether a church is big or small these verbs ought to direct the actions of the congregation.

First, Go Make! This is evangelism and every church is to be salt and light. We must have contact with those who are far from God so that we might share the gospel with them. We are called to be His witnesses. Who are you actively building a relationship with so that they may see and know the love of God? Who are you praying for daily so that God the Holy Spirit will convict them and make them aware of their need of a savior?

Second, Baptize them! Next, we are to be actively working on our fellowship with other believers. The church is to be known by the love we have for one another and how we care for one another. We take care of each other and we make sure that others realize they are not in this alone. One benefit of being connected to a small group, Sunday School class, or Bible study is that they can be the “first responders” to those in their group when they need extra attention.

Third, Teach Them! Now we get into discipleship and developing a process that encourages every believer to grow into maturity with Christ. What are those next steps in your church’s discipleship process? Hal Seed uses the analogy of the Sower and the Soil. The next steps are described as Dirt, Root, Trunk, Branch, and Fruit. It is moving disciples from babes in Christ, to maturing in Christ, to mature in Christ, and then reproducing more disciples!

Fourth, Love God! We are to focus on worship! We place Him first because it is all about Him. We have been instructed by our Lord to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Anything or anyone that we love more than God becomes an idol. God will not allow us to have any other gods before Him. He must have the preeminence in our lives and rightly placed on the throne in every area of our lives.

Fifth, Love Your Neighbor! This is demonstrated in the way we minister and serve others. How will you demonstrate the love of God daily in a practical way? We have the opportunity to allow our lights to shine through our good works so they might glorify our Father. This can be done through servant evangelism, random acts of kindness, and figuring out how we can bless those who are far from God.

We are reminded by Rick Warren that these five purposes are modeled in Acts 2, prayed for by Jesus in John 17, and explained by Paul in Ephesians 4. Church health can be seen in the importance of these five purposes. We grow stronger through worship! (This is “loving Christ.”) We grow warmer through fellowship! (This is “Belonging to Christ’s Body” – a church.) We grow deeper through discipleship! (This is “growing in Christ.”) We grow broader through ministry! (This is “serving Christ.”) Also, we grow larger through evangelism! (This is “sharing Christ.”)

These five purposes should “drive” the vision and mission of a church. How well are you loving Christ and worshiping Him? How well are you loving one another and caring for one another? How well are you making disciples who make disciples that make disciples? How well are you serving others and serving the city where you minister? How well are you as a congregation sharing the gospel with those who are in your circles of influence? Begin making intentional plans to fulfill these five purposes.

Healthy churches are driven by these biblical purposes!

Get A Check-Up


There are many ways to determine health. An annual check up is a part of that process. They listen to your heart, take your blood pressure, and ask you questions to evaluate how you are doing. They draw blood and have it tested to see if there is anything the doctor should know such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and a host of other things. The doctor needs to know if there is something going on that cannot be seen by the naked eye.

We are told as a nation we are probably more unhealthy physically than ever because of our unhealthy lifestyles. It cannot be blamed on a lack of knowledge of the proper diet. Also, the options for exercise are plentiful. Many remain unhealthy because they have chosen not to do anything about what is causing them to be unhealthy.

In Breakout Churches Thom Rainer talks about a church having an “ABC” moment. This is necessary for change to be considered and attempted:

  • Awareness – something needs to change.
  • Belief – God will transform your church.
  • Crisis – you are willing to deal with for the change to occur. Are you blind to the crisis your churches is faceing?

Is being satisfied with being satisfied no longer acceptable? Most will not change their behavior until the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of making the necessary changes! Crisis can occur when you are no longer satisfied with the status quo.

It begins when a church decides that it is no longer acceptable to keep doing the same thing while expecting different results. Is there not a crisis when we see that discipleship in our churches is undefined and God’s mission is unengaged?

Thom Rainer recently shared 10 Warning Signs of Trouble for Churches:

  1. If the pastor does not have adequate time to be in the Word or if he chooses not to do so.
  2. If the members are spending time arguing about how money should be spent.
  3. If none or only a few of the key leaders are actively sharing their faith.
  4. If there is no clear process of discipleship in place, just a plethora of programs and activities.
  5. If corporate prayer is not a major emphasis in the church.
  6. If church members are arguing about worship style or worship times.
  7. If church members expect the paid staff to do most of the ministry, instead of the staff equipping the members to do the work of ministry. (“Why didn’t the pastor visit me in the hospital?”)
  8. If there are ongoing disagreements about matters of the church facilities.
  9. If the church has more meetings than new disciples.
  10. If the leadership of the church does not have a coherent plan for what is taught in small groups and Sunday school classes.

Is there not a crisis in your church when people know what to do but are not doing it? The scary thing is that all too often the knowledgable religious “mature” christians, who are not engaged in the mission of God, are criticizing those who are.

When we say we value something it shows up in our behavior. We do not just talk about it but we act upon it. Values are confirmed by actions, not just by words.  It is not a value when it is a preference but only becomes a true value when it is practiced.

In The Emotionally Healthy Church Peter Scazzero says , “I discovered that the skills to lead into the next phase were not hard to learn. The real difficulty was taking the time, thinking carefully ‘before the Lord,’ summoning the courage to have difficult conversations, and following through all the way.”

There is a crisis when your knowledge base does not lead to an action in your life and in your church!


Hal Seed is a friend who has a heart to help churches impact their communities for Christ in healthy ways.  This is not a campaign just to have big numbers but rather in order to connect people to small groups and more importantly introduce them to Christ!  Please look into this great campaign!



By Guest Hal Seed:

Why Every Church Ought to Hold an I Love Sundays Campaign:

In 2005, New Song Church averaged 750 in worship. I had spent the previous five years trying to figure out how to break us out of that plateau. A friend suggested we use Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life Campaign. That went so well, I decided to hold a Church-Wide Campaign twice a year.



Today, we average 1,750 in attend. Our ministries saw over 2,000 people come to Christ in 2014. We’re on pace for 2,500 salvations this year. 85% of our attenders are in Small Groups. I pastor some of the most committed believers I know. Most of this I attribute to the power of Church-Wide Campaigns. Here’s what they’ve done for us:


  1. Attendance Growth

New Song has grown by 133% in the last ten years. All of that growth has come from Church-Wide Campaigns. Every time we hold a Church-Wide Campaign, attendance surges between 7 and 25%.


  1. Small Group Participation

Before we started holding semi-annual Campaigns, about 40% of our attenders were in Small Groups. Today, we’re over 80%, because of the drawing power of a Church-Wide Campaign.


  1. Personal Growth

When simple truths that are preached on, talked through in a Small Group, and read about personally, the combination accelerates spiritual growth.


Why Campaigns Work:

  1. Relevant topics draw unchurched people

Most Americans aren’t against church; they just don’t have a compelling reason to attend. Newcomers are drawn by topics that matter to them and have the potential to change their lives. When you place a book in your people’s hands, it creates excitement and serves as a great inviting tool to bring people to church.


  1. Positive Peer Pressure draws people into Small Groups

Humans are social beings. We want to do what everyone else is doing. Leading up to a Church-Wide Campaign, almost everyone is signing for a Small Group so almost everyone else signs up too.


  1. Focus accelerates learning

Focus is a powerful thing! Take two forms of light: while the sun can warm you, a laser can cut through steel. Supernatural transformation happens when the pastor preaches on a topic, people go home and read about it, and then they come together with a Small Group to discuss what they’re learning.


When should you hold a Campaign?

We’ve discovered that unchurched people are most open to checking out church right after school starts and right after the New Year. So we hold Campaigns every September and every January. The ideal dates to start an I Love Sundays Campaign are on the third Sunday in September, which is National Back-to-Church Sunday and the fourth Sunday in January, which is the Sunday after a three day holiday.

What’s in The I Love Sundays Campaign Kit?

Last year the 26,000 churches who participated in National Back-to-Church Sunday saw a 21% jump in attendance that day. This year, Outreach, Inc. is combining National Back-to-Church Sunday with the I Love Sundays Campaign to create a highly-attractive five-week Church-Wide Campaign experience.


The I Love Sundays Campaign comes with

  • Campaign Planning Guide
  • Resource DVD with sermon bumper videos, countdown clock & promotional video
  • 5 customizable sermons
  • Web and social media graphics
  • Small Group Study Kit with Leader’s Guide & Study Guide
  • An I Love Sundays gift book
  • An I Love Sundays T-shirt
  • An I Love Sundays wristband
  • Sample promo tools

Why Hold a Series about Sundays?

  • Time pressure is one of the highest needs of our society. The solution is a rest on Sundays.
  • Pace of life is straining marriages. A key answer is time together on Sundays.
  • Families are being fragmented. Their glue could be Sundays.
  • God ordained the Sabbath as a day to refresh, refuel, and refocus. Without being preachy, I Love Sundays teaches people how to take back their one day to do that, regardless of their current spiritual condition.


To learn more about I Love Sundays and get free videos, visit (Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page.)




DNA is defined as the combination of features that makes something what it is. It is what carries our genetic information, reproduces itself, and is the means by which hereditary characteristics pass from one generation to the next. This major component of chromosomes determines a person’s hair and eye color along with many other features. We have all heard remarks like, “Wow, that apple didn’t fall very far from the tree” or “You could never deny that one” when a child looks a lot like one of their parents. God’s children should resemble Him!

Remember, anything healthy reproduces so what will your church’s children and grandchildren look like? In Organic Leadership, Neal Cole defines the DNA of a church as:

  • Divine truth
  • Nurturing relationships
  • Apostolic mission.

This definition is simple, uncluttered, and powerful. It promotes and produces a mindset of an always expanding and multiplying ministry led by the Spirit of God. DNA reminds us daily of our heritage and of what is most important to us. DNA determines who we are and who we are should determine what we do.

Even the tiniest of cells must exhibit DNA that is healthy and whole. A church will remain strong, healthy, and reproduce healthy children as long as its DNA is maintained. No matter what size a church is, it should have the Lord’s DNA because it belongs to Him, it is to glorify Him, and it should look like Him. Rick Warren has said, “Church size never determines significance! No airplane pilot thinks 15 passengers are insignificant!” The question is, “What kind of disciple should we be producing if our church has the right kind of DNA?”

The lowest common denominator in the church is the disciple. The DNA of the church will be determined by the DNA of the disciples that are being produced. What are the disciples in your church focused on the most? What takes up most of their time? How would your church describe a mature follower of Christ? Every church and every follower of Christ is commanded to make disciples. That is supposed to be who we are and what we do, but is it? Fact: unless making disciples is in the DNA of your church, world evangelism is a fantasy.

Neal Cole goes on to say, “If your ministry is struggling without leaders, don’t reevaluate your leadership program. Reevaluate your disciple making system.” DNA becomes infected and mutant when are churches become consumed with nonbiblical traditions. These traditions do not contradict the Bible but neither are they mandated or necessarily mentioned in the scriptures. Traditions such as singing happy birthday in the service, Sunday School, singing the great hymns of the faith, the way we take an offering, the pastor being at every surgery, and a host of others.

Traditions can be good or bad. They become wrong and dangerous when they are elevated to being equal or sometimes even above scripture. When this happens that church’s DNA is weakened and they begin producing anemic disciples. They stay busy with all kinds of activities and programs but the time has come for churches to quit focusing on matters that the Bible is silent on and begin again to obey what God has clearly commanded, making disciples. Don’t allow “good things” to become the enemy of what is best.

Spiritual maturity is not how much we know but what we are doing with what we know. The real issue is not where your church meets but how it operates. The New Testament norm for every believer and every church is to multiply. J. D. Payne says it this way, “A healthy ecclesiology advocates that your church is to grow and multiply itself throughout the world.” Every disciple is responsible for his spiritual walk and every disciple is responsible to make disciples. Where does it begin? By having the DNA of a disciple maker, Jesus!

The DNA of a healthy church requires that a mature disciple be defined as one who is making disciples that are making disciples!


The race was about to begin and the excitement in the air was energizing.  My son Benjamin’s high school’s 4×100 relay team had qualified for state and was expected to contend for the Oklahoma 4A state title.  The gun sounded and they were off.  We stood up as my son’s team mate reached to him for the all important passing of the baton.  Then one of the greatest fears in any relay race took place – they fumbled the handoff.  It had not happened all year, why now? 

In a second their chances of advancing to the finals were over.  Unfulfilled expectations overwhelmed them because of one mishandled handoff.  The disappointment was real because they knew they were fast enough to make the finals and maybe even win but we would never know because they had not been able to pass the baton.  This story is painfully true to my family but we all survived and our lives moved forward.

Fumbling a handoff in a relay race has no eternal consequences but Christians are running a race that does matter in eternity.  We are to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus but what about the other runners in the race?  What happens when the time comes for us to pass the baton of ministry to someone else?  Are we fumbling the baton of leadership development?  Have many dropped out of the race because we fumbled the handoff?  Discipleship is the starting point, the sustaining practice, and the key to lasting impact.   

The only way to ensure the proper handoff of ministry is to continually be reproducing leaders in our churches.  The most important and crucial element in passing the baton is discipleship and disciple making.  Always moving forward and always reproducing through an easily reproducible process.  Thom Rainer has rightfully observed that, “Congested churches and stagnant believers are the antithesis of God’s plan.”  Could this explain why it is estimated that 90% of those attending on Sunday’s are passive in their walk with the Lord and the church?

The quality of a church’s leadership is directly related to the quality of its discipleship.  If we do not have a clear discipleship process then we should not be surprised when there is a shortage of leaders.  Neil Cole has said, “If you can’t reproduce disciples, you can’t reproduce leaders.  If you can’t reproduce leaders, you can’t reproduce churches.  If you can’t reproduce churches, you can’t reproduce movements.”  The lack of leadership development creates a bottleneck in the church which has been created by a lack of making disciples that make disciples.

In the book From Followers to Leaders Robert Logan and Tara Miller give a highly reproducible model of leadership development that they call the I/You approach. 

Stage 1:  I do the task and you watch me. 

Stage 2: I do the task and you assist me. 

Stage 3: You do the task and I assist you. 

Stage 4: You do the task and I watch you. 

Stage 5: You do the task and someone else watches you. 

Now that is passing the baton!   We must dedicate ourselves to the most strategic activity that any church can engage in; making disciples.  There will not be any kind of significant, lasting, or sustainable movement of church planting or church revitalization/renewal without meaningful discipleship.  It is the very task that Jesus focused His efforts on and invested most of His time and energy.  Alan Hirsch has said it well, “Only to the extent that we can develop self-initiating, reproducing, fully devoted disciples can we hope to get the task of Jesus’ mission done!”

Don’t fumble the handoff!

5 Warning Signs for Your Church


     There are many examples of people who thought they were healthy but when they visited the doctor it was the exact opposite.  To be sick and not know it is a very dangerous situation.  Can a church be sick and not know it?  Are there some warning signs a church should be aware of that show whether they are healthy or not?   Thom Rainer on his blog said this, “I’ve seen it countless times. My team would go into a church for a consultation, and we would begin interviewing church members. We would hear from many of the congregants that their church was healthy and thriving. Then we would see the warning signs. And we would begin to fear that the apparently healthy body was not really healthy at all.  The church was sick. Some of the churches were really sick.” 

     Revelation 3:17 says, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked”  John McArthur says this in his commentary, “The Laodiceans’ lukewarmness was compounded by their self-deception.  Christ rebuked them for their disastrously inaccurate self-assessment.”  How many churches are evaluating their “spiritual health” by the wrong things?  Big buildings, multiple programs, large offerings, and being busy every night of the week does not in itself equal spiritual health.

     Thom Rainer went on to say, “What were some of the warning signs my team saw? Though the list is not exhaustive, these five issues were common. Some of the churches had one or two on the list; some had all five.” 

  1. The church has few outwardly focused ministries. Most of the budget dollars in the church are spent on the desires and comforts of church members. The ministry staff spends most of its time taking care of members, with little time to reach out and minister to the community the church is supposed to serve.
  2. The dropout rate is increasing. Members are leaving for other churches in the community, or they are leaving the local church completely. A common exit interview theme we heard was a lack of deep biblical teaching and preaching in the church. 
  3. The church is experiencing conflict over issues of budgets and building. When the focus of church members becomes how the facilities and money can meet their preferences, church health is clearly on the wane. 
  4. Corporate prayer is minimized. If the church makes prayer a low priority, it makes God a low priority. 
  5. The pastor has become a chaplain. The church members view the pastor as their personal chaplain, expecting him to be on call for their needs and preferences. When he doesn’t make a visit at the expected time, or when he doesn’t show up for the Bible class fellowship, he receives criticism. In not a few cases, the pastor has lost his job at that church because he was not omnipresent for the church members.

     The problem is that many church activities are more self-gratifying than they are missional.  Have we become more concerned about great comfort than we are the Great Commission and the Great Commandment?     Fanaticism has been defined as redoubling one’s effort after one’s aim has been forgotten.  When we enter our nice buildings with all the trimmings it is easy to forget about the ugliness and brokenness we were saved out of.  We must come back to the mission of the church which is to share the gospel with all people so that they might know the Jesus we know.  It is broken people like us being used by God to reach the broken people of our communities. 

     The question is not are we ok with our church but is Jesus pleased with His church?  Spiritual health will suffer greatly and many churches will die slow agonizing deaths if we continue to be more focused on our church member entitlements than our enlistment to service in the army of God.  Maybe this statistic best describes how unhealthy we have become: “1% of all Christians are actually producing reproducing disciples.”

Churches Should Thrive Not Just Survive


     “A year from now you will wish you had started today!”  That quote by Karen Lamb is so true and we must remember that we oftentimes overestimate what we can do in a year but underestimate what we can accomplish in five years.  The reality is, we have to start somewhere!  Helen Keller put it this way, “I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

     How could our churches be different a year, five years, or even ten years from today?  Every church finds itself where it either needs to be refreshed, restored, renewed, revitalized, or maybe even rebirthed!  Focusing on revitalization refers to a recapturing of the mission of God as seen in scripture.  There are two questions every church must ask on a regular basis.  First, what is our purpose?  The second question is, how are we doing in fulfilling our purpose?

     Our mission is what God has called every church to do; fulfill His Great Commission for His glory.  A church’s vision is how He wants your church to fulfill that mission.  Vision is the passion we have in fulfilling our mission.  Revitalization could begin in our churches when we are willing to repent of our lack of passion to share the gospel in our communities.  Ken Priddy says, “You evangelize to revitalize; you don’t revitalize to evangelize!”  Revitalization begins when the ministry emphasis shifts from the membership to the community.”

     Vision is not what you want for your church but rather what God wants for your church.  We must first get a vision of God before we will ever get a vision from God.  God’s plan for your church is to thrive, not just survive.  Ten years from now will your church be thriving or surviving?  Do you really believe that God has great things in store for your church?  Vision is simply a description of hope for the future.  Someone has said there are two kinds of churches; problem-based and possibility based.  Which are you? 

     Some churches worry too much about chaos while others are overly focused on control.  Chaos can create a train wreck but control can create paralysis.  Here is something to think about; “A slow death by paralysis isn’t nearly as gruesome as a train wreck.  But death is death!”  Many churches are not even aware that they are headed toward total paralysis because slow death works on us with a symptomless deception.

     Every church that wants to thrive needs to answer these questions biblically.  Revitalization is a spiritual issue. 

  1. Who are you?  This is your opportunity to clearly articulate the very foundational truths of why you exist.
  2. What do you do?  This details your vision which describes your plans of how your church will carry out God’s mission.  Here are five distinguishing marks of a church: A passion for Jesus; Confronting Idols; Biblical Teaching; Advancing in Discipleship; & Investing in the Culture.  These marks were written out by Jonathan Edwards and taken from the scriptures.  You see church revitalization is a return to the mission of God as seen in scripture.
  3. Where do you do this?  Your context is unique and unlike anyone else.  The temptation is to adopt what some other “successful” church is doing but be careful to adapt the principles to your context. 
  4. How will you carry out God’s mission?  The biblical mandate is to equip the saints for the work of ministry.  Our churches will have a much greater impact when we are not only focused on gathering but also on scattering and taking Christ to people where they are.
  5. Why do you do what you do?  Churches begin the revitalization process when they do everything for the glory of God.  Your church does not belong to you, it belongs to Him!  So every church must ask, “Is Jesus pleased with our church?”

     Healthy churches are willing to do whatever it takes to be the church God called them to be!       



The word mobilization describes the act of assembling and making both troops and supplies ready for war.  The word was first used in military conflict in order to depict the Russian army of the 1850s and 1860s.  Its definition is, “to marshal, bring together, prepare for action especially of a vigorous nature.”  Mobilization is about preparation and then moving into action so that we can make an impact for the Kingdom of God.  It goes beyond planning and strategy and moves us into action.

Mobilization is moving the church into action.  It is activating the body of Christ to actually live out the values we say we hold on to and believe.  The book of James makes it clear that we demonstrate a genuine faith, not by what we say, but by what we do and how we live our lives.  The best measurement of what we really value is not what we say but how we behave.  Values are those guiding principles, convictions, and assumptions that we have about ministry.  They are enduring beliefs that determine how we act.

Where does your church need to mobilize?  Are there things that you say you value that are lacking proof of that value in your daily actions?  Most churches and Christians would say that they value evangelism but there’s really no action to say it genuinely is a value.  We spend all of our time with Christians, we have minimal contact with unbelievers, and we are not actively cultivating relationships with people far from God.  How can we say we really value evangelism when there is no behavior in our lives that says we love the lost?

Mobilization is a call to awaken and activate your church to plan, prepare, and then move into action.  There are three areas to consider determining where your church is and where your church needs to begin.  First, maybe you need to mobilize to become healthy.  You must face the reality that your church is not well, sick, or maybe even on life support waiting for the plug to be pulled.  Some churches are even faced with the decision of closing and reinvesting somewhere through replanting. Getting healthy could also involve casting a new vision of simplified ministry right where you are.

Second, your church may need to mobilize your ministry.  Your church is not on the downward side of the life cycle but it does need some kind of intervention to refocus on making disciples, reproducing leaders, and multiplying churches.   The church is so busy with doing church that it has become inwardly focused and the scorecard needs to change from not only measuring what happens on the church campus to what impact the church is having in its city and community.  James 4:17 says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

Third, your church is healthy and you need to mobilize to multiply.  The time has come to focus on your sending capacity and develop a culture of multiplication.  Your focus is to equip, empower, and release leaders to multiply through missional engagement in new cities and communities.  Your church is not only interested in ministry but living on mission and developing leaders to live as missionaries in their zip code.

The temptation is to always default to what we know instead of what we actually do.  When churches think on their core values they will talk about how strongly they stand for the teaching and preaching of the word of God.  But it is interesting that as churches stress teaching and preaching the truth, and you should, that you are actually flipping the biblical order of the Great Commission.  It does not say teach first but rather says “go” and make disciples.  They must be taught and they must be taught correctly but if we never reach them there is no new believers who need to be taught.

Healthy churches do not just talk about what they believe but mobilize to action!  For the most part we behave in a manner consistent with our values, so if we value God’s word He says in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Holy Desperation


     “Holy Desperation” has been defined as when a congregation humbles themselves before God and realizes they can no longer keep doing ministry the same way and expecting a different result.  Holy desperation describes a church that is honest about its critical condition and need for a fresh vision and strategy.  Holy desperation means that a church is no longer satisfied with preservation over productivity.  Holy desperation characterizes a mentality where it is no longer acceptable to go through the motions without truly living on mission!

     “Doing” church on Sunday can lead to becoming an incredibly well-oiled machine that chugs along and gives us a false sense of accomplishment.  Steve Ogne says this about Holy Desperation, “Desperation becomes holy when we humble ourselves, release control and desperately seek God for a new future (not a restoration of the past).”  It is when a church desires a fresh wind from God, a new beginning, and is eager to do whatever God asks of them.  It is a willingness to focus on what needs to be done not on what has been done in the past.

     First, we must humble ourselves!  We must stop making excuses and rationalizing away our ineffectiveness in reaching our communities for Christ.  Humility is about self-abandonment and demands self-denial in acknowledging that Christ is above all and greater than all, especially ourselves.  When we see God for who He is we then can see who we are not; in charge!  John 12:24 describes the humility necessary, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”  A church must be willing to die to some of the old ways of doing things before they will be able to embrace a new vision and fresh start!   

     Second, we must release our control!  Churches have members who are more interested in their own personal preferences, desires, and in being served.  Releasing control gives rightful ownership of the church back to God and makes our pursuits secondary to His will.  One example of this is in the area of traditions.  There are good and bad traditions.  Good traditions are never equal to the scriptures and are always subservient to the Bible.  Bad tradition becomes equal to the word of God and in some churches even above the scriptures.  We must stop reading the Bible through the lens of our own personal preferences, desires, and traditions.  The form or structure of our church must bow to the functions of the church.  Are we obeying Christ’s commands and are we fulfilling the Great Commission in our Jerusalem?

     Third, we must seek God for a new future!  All too often we are so absorbed with facilitating the people we do have that we forget about those we are striving to reach.  Jesus commanded us to leave the ninety-nine and pursue the one lost sheep.  We must be willing to make decisions based on the next one hundred people we haven’t reached rather than the strong opinions and personal preferences of those already there.  We must dream and imagine what kind of new things God might want us to do in our community and city.  Seeking God on this is the key as we begin to pray and prepare for a new beginning with a multiplication DNA.  Many do not like any kind of change but we must ask ourselves if we like being unfruitful any better?

      Holy desperation is when a church realizes it is on the downside of the lifecycle, some are on life-support, and is in desperate need of a fresh vision and recommitment to the Great Commission.  Your churches willingness to make some changes will determine its ability to survive.   Holy desperation comes about because of a lack of vision, lack of effectiveness, and the reality that disciples are not being reproduced.  How can we not have a holy desperation when we cannot remember the last time someone in our ministry gave their heart to Christ and was gloriously transformed by the gospel?  How long will it take for us to finally admit that something has to be done in our church or it will not survive?

     In order to get healthy a church must first have a holy desperation!        



     Newer churches usually see more growth than older churches.  It has been estimated that it takes 88 members in a church over 15 years old to being one person to Christ.  Yet, in a church 5 years or younger it only takes 8 members to bring a person to Christ.  Why are new churches more effective? Why are newer churches so much more evangelistically inclined?  Here are some possible answers to these questions from Dynamic Church Planting International Training, Churches Planting Churches:

     First, it could be because of FOCUS!  “Established churches tend to focus on ministering to those already present.  The older a church gets, the easier it is to concentrate on nurturing and satisfying those who are already involved.  This tendency is very difficult to fight, even among people with the best of intentions.  In many new churches, the core group is small and those people know they must focus on winning the lost, or else the church will not survive.  New churches tend to concentrate on evangelism and the goal of establishing a new congregation.”

     But an older church can refocus on evangelism and pursuing the lost as Jesus did.  Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  Begin living as missionaries in your zip code.  Churches should approach every day as if they are headed out on a short term mission trip because they live and minister in the third largest mission field in the world.

     Second, it could be because of STYLE!  Dynamic Church Planting International puts it this way.  “Established churches tend to prefer to use the style of ministry that was relevant and

effective when the church was started. Such traditions are usually very hard to change.  Style includes issues such as: music—old style or new, dress—traditional formal clothing or come-as-you-are, vocabulary—words and phrases that are not understood in today’s culture referred to by some as “Christianeze.”   Christians in established churches often resist changing with the times.”

     But older churches can take steps to change their approach to ministry in order to reach more people with the gospel.  You can remain Biblically sound while also remaining culturally relevant.  Truth never changes but methodology can.  Remember, form follows function!  Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

   Thirdly, it could be because of a lack of VISION!  DCPI Churches Planting Churches says, “New churches begin because of a vision of starting a church to reach the lost. Established churches tend to become comfortable and satisfied with the status quo and lose their vision for reaching lost people.  Proverbs 29:18a says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  Over time most churches lose their vision and passion for reaching the lost.  Instead of fishers of men they become keepers of an aquarium!”

     Once again, an “older” church can regain a vision for the mission of God.  If a church is not living on mission for God to reach the lost, disciple them, and reproduce themselves then they have lost the reason for their existence.  Jesus made it clear in Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

     DCPI Churches Planting Churches training reminds us that, “From 1800 to 1960 the number of Baptists grew from 100,000 members to twenty million!  Lyle Schaller estimates that 60-80% of the people in a new church become Christians through that church, therefore it is likely that 12 to 16 million came to Christ through these new Baptist churches.  The facts are clear: Associations that aggressively plant churches reach people for Christ and grow. The more aggressive they are, the greater the evangelism and growth.”

      Do we need to plant more churches?  Most definitely, but we also need all churches to return to a passionate desire to do whatever they have to do to make sure their church is fulfilling the Great Commission in their Jerusalem!